Tag Archive | Jerusalem

Israelis Stoked the Riot in Silwan

Riots Grip East Jerusalem

By Mel Frykberg  in Silwan, Sep 27, 2010 (IPS)  

Tension, the twisted carcasses of gutted vehicles, buses with smashed windows, smouldering dumpsters, streets riddled with rubber-coated steel bullets and empty cartridge cases, teargas, and air thickened with black soot from burning tyres marked the beginning of the fifth day Monday of continuous rioting in East Jerusalem. A Palestinian man was killed by an Israeli settlement security guard in disputed circumstances, a Palestinian toddler asphyxiated on teargas, and dozens of Palestinians were injured by beatings, rubber-coated metal bullets and teargas inhalation.

 The East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan has been tense for months with clashes breaking out between protesting Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces on a regular basis. Jerusalem municipality has demolished many Palestinian homes.

The planned demolition of dozens more homes, the eviction of many Palestinian residents, and the pending eviction of hundreds more to make way for illegal Jewish settlements and a Jewish theme park has led to a time-bomb waiting to explode. The spark that ignited the flame took place last Wednesday morning at approximately 5am when father of five 31-year-old Samer Sarhan was shot dead on his way to work following a confrontation with Israeli security guards outside the City of David Israeli settlement….

Read More>>> Riots Grip East Jerusalem

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From Silwan to the City of David

Between the Builder and the Architect: Frederick II, and the Castel Del Monte

Between the Builder and the Architect: Frederick II, and the Castel Del Monte

Religious Tolerance in Medieval Rome

By Hwaa Irfan

For those who have visited it, one of the adjectives used to describe the atmosphere is “magical,” and the experience is “amazing” – another case of objective art?

On a rocky summit, which used to be a river bank surrounded by a moat that was filled by the sea, the Castel Del Monte sits facing Murge Hills. Oriented towards the East, the entrance/Throne Room is oriented towards the rising of the sun. “Castel del Monte does not look like a stranger in a countryside of olive trees, and aromatic pine woods, with blankets of broom and fushia if one was to visit in the middle of Summer. Maybe there is a synergy between the materials, the design and the abundance of nature that somehow seems to make the Castel at home. The coral crushed stone, marble, and limestone with flecks of quartz used form a superior understanding of what architecture is in relation to the environment unlike many of the building built today; along with the standard of masonry employed the Castel could equally belong to any Middle Eastern country.

Built in 1240 on the orders of Emperor Frederick II von Hohenstaufen of Swabia/Suabia, in the region of Puglia, the Castel Del Monte is rich with the symbolism of geometry. Radically different from the castles built by the Swabians, Castel del Monte is a two-storey castle, built on the numbers 8, 3, 2, and, 1 to sacred geometrical proportions. The octagonal building is an icon to the perfect symmetry demanded by geometry in the form of architecture. Granted as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996, UNESCO describes the Castel as:

    “… imbued it with symbolic significance, as reflected in the location, the mathematical and astronomical precision of the layout and the perfectly regular shape”.

One of the reasons why the Castel Del Monte was granted the status because it represents:

    “… outstanding universal value in its formal perfection and its harmonious blending of cultural elements from northern Europe, the Muslim world, and classical antiquity.”

With the true purpose remaining unclear to many scholars other than a symbolic one, the octagonal design lends to 8 trapezoid-shaped, rooms, which overlook an octagonal courtyard on both the first and second floors. The grand loggia that used to hang over the first floor entrance to the grand hall from the courtyard is no longer present, but the Adam and Eve relief still remains. The floors are connected by 3 perfect spiral staircases as in the unfolding of a DNA string. The courtyard possesses an 8-sided tower located at each corner of the octagonal courtyard, which from the sky must look like a giant mandala. Eight arched windows allude to privacy, allowing for only light to enter. Windows connect rooms with the exception of the 1st and 8th room which has one small round window.

The triangular shaped rooms on each level span out like segments leaving the impression of a square at the center of these 16 converging rooms. Frederick II had what was considered a serious hygiene regime for his time, in response to the practices he learnt from his time in Jerusalem amongst the Muslims, so there is a strong indication that ablutions took place away from the rooms as toilets are located in a few of the towers, with the other towers main function as rainwater collector, part of which was relayed to a large tank sunk in the rock, under the central courtyard.

Clearly, the Castel del Monte is set upon the principles of sacre geometry, as the equilateral triangle unfolds outwards with its sides defining the sides of a:

4 – The square

And the next stage of unfoldment leads to a

5 – The Pentagon

And the next stage of unfoldment leads to a

6 – hexagon

And the next stage of unfoldment leads to a

8 – Octagon

And so on, and so forth.

With the pivotal points of the trapezoid rooms arising from the centers of ocatagons/8 representing the Hermetic aphorism, “As above, so below”, or the 8 corners of a cubic stone with the windows possesing three (the metaphysical number of concealement and transformation) steps/seats that lead to the windows itself supported by two (the number of production/creativity) stone banisters.

A circle (representing unmanifest unity), represented by the moat, encompassing an octagon (the courtyard), encompassing another ocatagon, encompassing, a series of triangles, trapezoids, which form 4 inverted triangles (representative of the male-female union, as well as “as above so below”) a square (representative of unity made manifest), resulting in an 8-pointed star – combined represents the union of heaven on earth, eternity, 8 corners of a cubic stone. The outer circle of the moat circles the inner square, which symbolizes the circummabulation around the Ka’aba in Mecca. In symbolism the concept of “squaring of the circle” through the pentagon represents the harmonization of intuition. The “squaring of the circle” represents that which is not mainfest made manifest or the infinite through the finite – union of the four elements. The high precision of the design, building, and layout of the Castel del Monte without historical records, has been compared to the octagonal compass depicted on the 13th century navigational map the Carta Pisana in terms of shape and layout.

One may have hated geometry at school, because of the way it was taught, or one may have found geometry to have been the only aspect of math that one connected with. Referred to as the language of God, geometry is reflected in every structure of His Creation. Socrates discovered through an experiment on an uneducated Greek slave and came to the conclusion that his soul “must have always possessed this knowledge.” This experiment has been repeated recently with both African and the indigenous of the Amazon. In a study carried out by Irving Biederman, and the Harold Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience at USC College, it was found that Western college students and members of the semi-nomadic Himba tribe of northwestern Namibia showed greater sensitivity to non-accidental shapes i.e. geometrical shapes with not much difference between the two groups. In testing the Munduruku of the Brazilian Amazon, a people who have no words for square, rectangle, triangle or any other geometric shape except circles in their language or words for numbers above the number 5, nor tools of measurement that they understood as many principles of geometry as their North American counterparts. Geometry is an underlying principle of all objective art, and describes the integration of all living systems of God’s creation. As such, sacred geometry bypasses the intellect which is limited, and is caught in the mind-loop of comparisons and has the innate capacity to transmit knowledge to the subconscious mind.

No wonder Frederick II was known in his time as “Stupor Mundi” the (wonder of the world).

Frederick II

The reign of Frederick II is said to have played an important role in the transition from the period of intolerance marked by Western medieval culture, and modernism. He introduced along with tolerance, the concept of a systemized law, and administration (an inheritance from the Fatimid predecessors), and secular education. He was born in 1194 in Jesi as the last ruling descendent of the Normandy dynasty. His father was Henry of Hoenstaufen, and Constance of Altavilla. Orphaned, Frederick II fell under the custody of Pope Innocent III, but other than being educated by the papacy, the young Frederick would be King spent his life on the cosmopolitan streets of Palermo like a street urchin. By the time he was 4, he was “King” of Sicily. He had the good fortune to be raised in what was the cosmopolitan city of Palermo – the capital of the Norman kingdom which was once governed by an Arab Emirate under the Fatimid Caliphate. Many races and religions had formed the fabric of Palermo society, coexisting without difficulty.

King Fredrick was crowned Emperor at Aachen Cathedral, a former church that was a part of the palace built by Emperor Charlemagne. A man of the intellect, Frederick II was unusual for his time in the West, having a strong interest in mathematics, geometry, poetry, music, astronomy, the natural sciences, and medicine liken to the Muslims scholars of his time. He also spoke fluently, the German tongue of his father, the Italian of his childhood, French, Greek, and Arabic. However, life for him was not an easy one, as he fought against the Catholic Church for most of his adult life though born a Christian. Against papal hegemony, and the brutal expansion of Christendom, and by the time he was 18 he was the King of Germany. Through his first marriage to Constance of Aragon, the Spanish polity that under direction of the Church, rid Spain of the Moors, Frederick was given 300 knights as dowry, who helped him to claim his rights over Germany before returning to Sicily.

Pope George IX as a known orator and propagandist was a bane in Frederick’s life, and through vindictive and antagonistic means managed to get Frederick II excommunicated twice which was not an unusual feat for medieval rulers to obtain. The test in their relations was Jerusalem, who Pope George IX wanted Frederick II to claim in the name of Christendom under the not so holy crusades. When Frederick II did finally make it to Jerusalem it was not with the same bloody intent of the Pope. Frederick II hated the hypocrisy over the crusades which was about expanding Christendom’s power through the knighthood initially and the crusades, not faith and understanding, and accused the papacy of usury, greed, and lacking in morality.

What set Pope George IX on an unswerving course of revenge was his appetite for power clashed not only with Frederick II, the result of which was a failed attempted one Easter, to preach against Frederick II. That attempt erupted into a riot that claimed the streets of Rome, and Pope George IX having to escape. This sums up the probable cause as to why Frederick II sought sanity and purpose elsewhere, the icon of which the Castel del Monte surely represents.

Frederick II had philosophical discourses from childhood, first at the hands of papal education, and later on from various quarters. One of those quarters was with Ibn Sab’in, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haqq (1217-68), a sufi of Muslim Spain who was against the breaking up of reality into different units to deny the nature of creation, and Aristotelian logic as a means of interpreting reality, which denied the unity of everything. It was between Ibn Sab’in and Frederick II that a series of discourses took place via correspondence entitled “al-Kalam ‘ala’l masa’il al-siqliyyah (Philosophical Correspondence with the Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen” on the main principles of Aristotelian philosophy. “In The Art of Hunting with Birds” (De Arte Venandi cum Avibus), was Frederick II praised book on falconry, but closer inspection reveals his relationship with Aristotelian philosophy. In the preface he wrote:

‘We discovered by hard won experience that the deductions of Aristotle, whom we followed when they appealed to our reason, were not entirely to be relied upon.’

For Frederick II, his first encounter with Muslims began as a boy on the streets of Palermo at a time of religious intolerance at the hands of the papacy. The Pope not carrying out the full wardship of the young Frederick II, left him ample time after papal tutorship to roam the streets of Palermo. As such, one of his tutors was a scholarly Muslim, from whom Frederick’s II fluency in Arabic was learnt. Despite being called to lead a crackdown against the “infidels” due to excessive increase in taxes against the Muslims in Lucera, his street life in Palermo was probably the foundation of his great sense of religious and racial tolerance, unknown in the Western medieval world. For Frederick II the papacy had betrayed the faith, but Frederick II did not reject his faith, as many would like to assume because as an emperor he would look on Muslims and Jews favorably, but punish Christian heretic severely. At his coronation as King of Germany, Frederick II wore a robe with Arabic embroidered inscription.

Although King of Germany, Frederick II spent little of his time in Germany. He could either be found in his kingdom of Sicily, or on “crusade.” The diplomatic ties that were not reflected in Pope George IX’s conduct as a ruler, was reflected in Frederick II as an emperor. These ties were partially initiated by Egypt’s Sultan El-Kamil through his emissary Emir Fahkr ad-Din in 1226 who visited Frederick II’s court expressing concern about the political and military successes of his brother, al-Malik al-Mu’azzam -governor of Damascus, whose alliance with the Khwarizimian Turks, made him fearful of an attack on Egypt. In return El-Kamil promised to give Frederick II’s Jerusalem, This was made known by the Muslim historian ibn Wasil, who was Frederick II’s son, Manfred.

Frederick II aimed to exploit the disunity amongst the successors of Salah ad-Din, but not in his favor al-Mu’azzam died on the eve that Frederick II was to attack. A year later, his Latin wife Yolande, Queen of Jerusalem died leaving him a son, Conrad, leaving his sovereignty over Jerusalem questionable. The ensuing crusade on Jerusalem, which he had delayed and resisted the call to do so by the papacy began as an attempt to correct his reputation has marred by Pope George IX, and to show to the “world” his innocence of the lies spread by the Pope.

By the time Frederick II arrived in Jerusalem, he met favorable conditions with local Muslims. After 5 months of negotiation with Egypt’s sultan, El-Kamil in Jerusalem, a 10-year treaty, the Treaty of Jaffa, transpired giving Frederick II control of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, control of Christian centers of worship, and recognition as King of Jerusalem (crowned in 1229 at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with his soldiers and Muslims in attendance) pledging to prevent any attack from the West during the treaty. During the 5 months of negotiation, Frederick II was treated well, to the extent that the Sultan asked the muezzin (the person who calls others to pray) to not call the dawn prayers. Frederick II’s response was:

    “I stayed overnight in Jerusalem, in order to overhear the prayer call of the Muslims and their worthy God.”

For this bloodless crusade, the treaty was rejected by the Pope, and the errant Frederick II was excommunicated.

Frederick II after unifying Sicily, and establishing a unified law that included Christians, Muslims and Jews, established the first secular university in the West in 1224, the University of Naples (now now Università Federico II), where the focus was to have scientifically educated civil servants, the university was instrumental in establishing and developing Roman law; Arabic and Hebrew were taught along with Judaic and Islamic laws, and Muslim and Jewish cultures. He ordered religious tolerance through his kingdom, and took under his wing the reorganization of the Salerno School of Medicine including the phasing in of the discipline in anatomy; howver the method at which he determined the need for anatomy will not be explored here.

Frederick II felt culturally, Muslims were his equals. With the ongoing harassment of Pope George IX at all levels, Frederick II Felt more secure around Muslim. He had Muslim soldiers in his campaigns, because they could not be excommunicated, and half his court consisted of Muslims. Some of the Muslims in his court were master craftsmen, skilled at cutting hard and difficult materials, the type if materials used in the building, and décor of Castel del Monte.

What seems to evade proof is the knowledge base on which Frederick II built the Castel del Monte, with apparent willful intent. Enriched by the traditional Christian philosophical school, and the Islamic schools, Frederick II was able to reach a serious level of knowledge that he could be apply. Frederick II was able to network into the Muslim world, making contact with the person who could answer his question. This underlies some form of intelligence network that could facilitate his need to thirst for true knowledge. If nothing was written on him, the enigma of the Castel del Monte would stand as testament that this man’s relationship with himself and God, mattered more than the worldly demands of a Pope who neglected his faith.


Abulafia, D The Journey to Jerusalem 1227-30 1988. Oxford University Press, U.K.

Bakalar, N. Mastering the Geometry of the Jungle http://agutie.homestead.com/files/world_news_map/humans_hard_wired_brain_geometry.html

Dolan, J. A Note on Emperor Frederick II and his Jewish Tolerance. Jewish Social Studies, Vol. 22, No. 3 (Jul., 1960). Indiana University Press.

Emperor Frederick II http://www.crusades-history.com/Emperor-Frederick-II.aspx

Frederick II http://www.casteldelmonte.beniculturali.it/index.php?en/97/frederick-ii

Frederick II (1215-1250) http://www.vlib.us/medieval/lectures/frederick_ii.html

Gotze, H. “Frederick II and the Love of Geometry. http://www.leonet.it/culture/nexus/96/gotze.html

Ibn Sab’in, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haqq (1217-68) http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/H033

Lawyer, R. Sacred Geometry. 1982. Thames & Hudson, U.K.

Lucera: A Muslim Colony in Medieval Italy. http://faculty.ed.umuc.edu/~jmatthew/naples/Lucera.htm

Marziali, C Brain Has an Innate Sense of Geometry http://uscnews.usc.edu/university/brain_has_innate_sense_of_geometry.html

Morris, R.C. Under Frederick II, the First Rebirth of Roman Culture. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/05/arts/05iht-conway.html?_r=1

The Castle. http://www.casteldelmonte.beniculturali.it/index.php?en/93/the-castle

The Imperial Menace to The Freedom Of Religion: The Emperor Frederick II

UNESCO. Castel del Monte. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/398

UNESCO. Castel del Monte. http://www.sitiunesco.it/index.phtml?id=638

World Heritage Site Castel del Monte. http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/casteldelmonte.html

Related Topics:
Hassan Fathy: The Barefoot Architect
A Sacred Place
The Doctrine of Discovery
Muslim Cordoba Going for a Song

From Silwan to the City of David

From Silwan to the City of David

By Hwaa Irfan

Ahdaf Soueif in her piece entitled “The Dig Dividing Jerusalem, wrote so prosaically, about group of tourists descending their tour bus, and preparing to discover their next adventure. The trouble is that these elderly people have been led to believe that they are going to visit the City of David! They are completely unaware of the lie they have been told, just as most of us today are completely unaware that the Wailing Wall is product of the imagination. You see, it was in 1929, that Rabbi Baruch Kaplan of Hebron recalled that…

    “…the Zionists had a slogan arguing that the Western Wall in Jerusalem was a Jewish “national symbol.” Of course, the Arabs disagreed with this idea, considering that they had control of the location for over 1,100 years. However, the Zionist mobs were yelling that “The Wall is ours!” It’s hard to understand why they felt that way considering they have no connection to the Jewish holy places whatsoever. An argument erupted in the Jewish newspapers about establishing a permanent prayer area for Jews at the Wall. This provoked the Arabs, and the rabbi of Jerusalem at the time, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld begged them to stop and to be appreciative to the Arabs for allowing Jews to pray at the Wall for so many centuries undisturbed. However, the Zionists wanted a permanent setup under their control.”

And once again, as they did with the Wailing Wall, so it is with the village of Silwan just like elsewhere. The Jerusalem municipality asked the villagers to evacuate their homes for demolition As the quiet village heats up to the changing of the name of its streets, and imposed tours without their consent, the support for the villagers wanes.

– MAY 15th, Al Nakhba/the Catastrophe when Palestine became Israel, was the day of focus for troublesome settlers, who demonstrated provocative behavior by stomping through Silwan from April 2010.

– May 27th clashes between the villagers

– May 27th settlers started shooting at children:

– May 29th 2010 saw the fight become physical between the villagers, the settlers and the police. However, in the Israeli press, it is the villagers who are being made to look more than unreasonable.

    “The settlers are shooting at these children, who are throwing stones. Settlers often try to play the role of the victim and the policeman at the same time,” Issam Dana told Silwan Information Center.

    Israeli forces/ settler guards were using rubber-coated steel bullets and sound grenades.

    Zuhair Rajabi was shot in her arm, and her 6 children were wounded by the attacking settler guards. This followed residents trying to repair the water pipes of the Al Rajabi home damaged by the settlers who occupied the “House of Honey” next door.

    June 02nd The clashes are becoming more violent as the settler guards increase the pressure. The armed guards of the Elad (City of David) Settlement Association (backed by their government), try to arrest the young men of Silwan.

    The Village that Time Forgot

    In February 2009, the group known as the Architect and Planners for Justice in Palestine, a U.K-based initiative, re-launched their petition against Israel’s settlements on the Palestinian land. One of the areas under Judaization is the village of Silwan, in East Jerusalem, where there is an intention to demolish 88 Palestinian homes.

    Silwan is an Arabic word which in English means tranquility, stability and comfort. Unfortunately, stability and comfort ended with the occupation of a land owned by other people. Silwan, with a population of 50,000 Arabs sits on the south-eastern slopes of the old city of Jerusalem. Seized by Israel in 1967, Silwan comes under the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem governorate, the citizens of which pay taxes to Jerusalem, have Jerusalem ID’s, but are not allowed to vote, as they are not considered to be citizens of Jerusalem.

    Increasing Israeli activity around the village of Silwan, is tantamount to Blackops. Tourism to Silwan, is used as a means to spread the belief that Silwan is the original city of King David, where they believe his tomb lies. Attacks by settlers on the people of Silwan are frequent, as they attempt to move in on the Arab village. The tactic of archaeological digs is to lay claim to the area and put it under the auspices of the settlers’ organization “Elad” (acronym for City of David), which has a Judaization agenda. Evacuation, occupation, and depriving the natives of their land, is an Elad method which also employs illegal and secret ‘archaeological digs’ to support their claim. Acting on behalf of the State, in 2005 Elad had a revenue of NIS 41 million. With a private army, and sometimes acting on behalf of the state, Elad has carried out this role for over 20 years.

    A Silwan resident, Jawad explained using a brochure produced by the Jerusalem governorate:

      “You see this, Hashiloah Road?” All these years, it was called Ein Silwan Street.
      ‘Ma’alot Ir David’ Street? That was Wadi Helwa Street. The street next to it, ‘Malkitzedek,’ used to be Al-Mistar Street.”

    Now the Elad version of Silwan is presented through it’s education program for tourists to the village, having established settlers within the village, settler watchtowers, armed guards run the ‘national park’ in Silwan, a tourist center from which they ‘educate’ tourists with their version of Shiloh/Siloam/Silwan. While these tours are taking place, roads are blocked off, and the non-Jewish residents of Silwan have to approach their homes through their neighbors’ gardens. No longer free to live as they once did, one resident had to build a room on top of his small home due to the expansion of his family. The authorities found out, and he had to go to court. This caused the owner to pay a fine, which he could only pay by installments out of his social security money. Social security could not cover this and he fell behind payments, and for this the courts sentenced him to 85 years in prison.

      The Natives

    Built on the original city of Jerusalem (Yabous); the homes of Silwan rest on a cliff. The Natives were known as Jebusites. If religious texts that have gone through much editing, translation from a poor translation (Greek) from a dead language, and unfamiliarity with their original meanings can be taken as historical proofs, then Biblically, Silwan pre-dated King David:

    Now after the death of Joshua it, came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the Lord, saying, ‘Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them?'” (Judges 1:1).

    Now the children of Judah, had fought against Jerusalem, and had taken it, ands smitten it with the edge of the sword, and set the city on fire. And afterwards the children of Judah went down to fight against the Canaanites, that dwelt in the mountain, and in the south, and in the valley” (Judges 1: 8-9).

    So clearly the children of Judah (one of 12 Israeli tribes), were not Canaanites, and were not from Jerusalem. Then further on in the Book of Judges it is stated:

    And the children of Benjamin [one of 12 Israeli tribes ] did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day” (Judges 1: 21).

    And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were the inhabitants of the land” (I Chronicles 11: 4)

    So clearly the Jebusites were inhabitants of Jerusalem before war was waged upon them by the Israeli tribes. Entering by force, King David set up his fort in the city of the Jebusites, Jerusalem, and referred to it as the ‘City of David’ (Samuel II 5: 9). Not only that, from amongst the Jebusites King David had five sons, one of whom was to be Prophet Solomon. So the children of Israel, a people without land, went to live amongst a people with a homeland:

    And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hitvites, and Jebusites” (Judges II 3: 5).

    Christian theologian, David Wenkel states:

      “Historical mention of Jerusalem predates the city’s appearance in Jewish history. Ancient texts such as the Egyptian execration texts (2000-1900 B.C.E.) refer to the city as Rushalimum. The word Jerusalem becomes more recognizable in a series of letters from around 1400 B.C.E. attributed to scribes acting on behalf of King Abdi-Hepa of Urusalim”.

    So who are the Jebusites today? Clearly they are not Jewish, or Israeli, just as clearly Jerusalem existed before the children of Israel. The people of Silwan, like so many others Palestinian villages stand in the face of eradication by their occupiers. Silwan resident, Fatima Qara’in, who was expelled by Elad she knows no other home:

      “This house belonged to my father. My grandmother and I lived there where we grew up. I mean in the house that is up there, in Wadi Helweh –my house, the one which we were born in, and grew up in, my brothers sisters, and I in that house up there. I stayed here, my father left for Amman – he, my mother, brothers and sisters. I stayed with my grandmother who brought me up.

      “When my cousin came to betroth me, he asked my grandmother her for my hand because I was living with her. When we were about to get married, my father said, ‘I don’t want that. I want to sell the house’. My grandmother said, ‘There’s no one more entitled to buy the house than Fatimah. Let Fatima buy the house’. I bought the house from him With the help of grandmother. I had a lot of gold because my grandmother was always buying me gold. She used to collect Ottoman pounds for me. All these things my grandmother collected for me. My mother died and left me money and gold, and my uncle’s family helped me to buy the house from my father rather than leave the house to a stranger…”

    Silwan Banat. The Village of Silwan. Silwan Banat. http://www.silwanbanat.net/Default.aspx?tabid=284

    Adam Horowtiz. The Story of Israeli Colonization of Silwan Will Not Go Away. Phillip Weiss. http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2009/04/story-of-silwan-will-not-go-away.html

    Al Wa’ad Association. The Village of Silwan. Al Wa’ad. http://www.al-waad.org/silwan_en.html

    Architect and Planners for Justice in Palestine. Petition Against the E1 (A1) Plan. APJP. http://apjp.org/the-e1-lifta-silwan-petition

    Bronner, Y. Archaelogists for Hire. Gaurdian.co.uk http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/may/01/archaeologistsforhire

    Palestine Solidarity Project. Victory for Joint Non-Violent Resistance in Silwan. PSP. http://palestinesolidarityproject.org/2008/03/18/victory-for-joint-non-violent-resistance-in-silwan/

    Al Mashriq. Fatima Qara’in. Al Mashriq. http://almashriq.hiof.no/palestine/300/301/voices/Jerusalem/sarah_odeh.html
    Rabbis for Human Rights. RHR-Israel Defends Citizens of Silwan. RHR. http://www.rhr-na.org/news/rhr-israel-defends-citizens-silwan

    Rapoport, M. Group Judaizing East Jerusalem Accused of With-holding Donation Sources Haaretz. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/926322.html

    Silwan Information Center. Wadi Hilweh Information Center – Silwan

    Soueif, A. “The Dig Dividing Jerusalem”

    Wenkel, D. Palestinians, Jebusites and Evangelicals Middle East Quarterly. http://www.meforum.org/1713/palestinians-jebusites-and-evangelicals

    Xinhua Three Palestinians Wounded in West Bank Clashes with Israeli Army

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A Sacred Place

A Sacred Place

By Hwaa Irfan

Of those who have struggled to obtain greater insight into God’s law, they have been blessed with a greater responsibility, to teach and guide the rest of us. As we tend to believe what is visible, importance is placed on the physical. When we seek refuge we run to a physical place. Rather than make the environment in which we live in a place of worship and remembrance we separate worship as something that can only be done in the domain of a building that has been designed specifically for that purpose.

A fundamental aspect to the design of some sacred places is geodesy meaning earthlike or spheroidal. Abu Raihan Muhammed ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni (362 A.H/973 B.C.) as a naturalist, geographer, astronomer, and astrologer, geodesy was classified as natural philosophy involving matter + form, and time + space, whereas it was classified as a mathematical science under ibn Sina. In the reductive times in which we live, geodesy has fallen under the physical domain, as a branch of mathematics that focuses on the size and shape of the earth. Regardless, it still involved geometry which is rooted in the religious sciences as sacred geometry.
Islamic religious architectural design is based on sacred geometry. One can find geometry in the design of all life forms from the cells of our bodies, plant forms, water, and geological structures hence the expression “geometry is God manifest”. As much as we try to move away from God, His presence is wherever we are. Water molecules, carbon atoms, proteins, cells, bodily tissues etc, are able to facilitate their purpose in the cycle of life because of their geometrical design. The ability of organisms to stabilize mechanically is due to their connectedness to a frame of triangles, pentagons, and hexagons etc.

Rahul Singhvi and others believed that by changing the shape of cells, they could switch God’s genetic programming. They tried to force living cells to take on other geometrical shapes, but their knowledge achieved little. Instead the cells became flat away from their geodesic dome shapes and developed a propensity to divide and activate apoptosis – death program. This is man dabbling with the laws of His nature.

Following through, an analogy can be drawn with man who forces others to be the same – we are not all squares or rectangles. Man is splitting and dividing the world, against the laws of nature, triggering a death wish can be witnessed by the extent of the violence that is occurring today at all levels of society.

The problem for man’s ego is, that geodesic forms existed in inorganic forms long before DNA existed even water molecules are structurally geodesic for all matter is subject to the same spatial parameters regardless of scale or position. This confirms that The Plan was set from the very beginning of creation.

Everything as a purpose and a purpose for everything, even art once served a greater purpose as objective art. George Gurdjieff, a philosopher who traveled much in the Islamic and pre-Islamic world described objective art as follows:

    “Among works of art, especially ancient works of art, you meet with many things you cannot explain, and which contains a certain something you do not feel in modern works of art.

    “Objective art requires at least flashes of objective consciousness; in order to understand these flashes properly and to make proper use of them a great inner unity is necessary and a great control of one’s self”

Both geodesy and objective art reflect fundamentals of Islamic architecture. Mechanically domes are power enhancers. A whisper on one side of a sound-reflecting dome building is easily heard because the sound becomes focused towards the center of the spherical shape. This principle applies to all forms of energy under a dome: a concave lens, dish antennae’s and electromagnetic waves.

Arab and Muslim builders who adopted the dome from traditions prior to Islam, introduced other concepts, and applied this knowledge into Islamic architecture. They have made the non-physical physical, through centuries of experience, knowledge, craftsmanship and artistry using local materials. From these contributions the attempt at environmental harmony as a reflection of the divine concept of humanity was made.

An Example in Time

It is this transcendence of objective art that the Dome of the Rock – El-Qubbet El-Sakhrah speaks of. In ancient Semetic tradition, this site was the intersection of the underworld and upperworld (which brings to mind the Hermetic axiom “As above, so below”). It was where Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham built an alter to sacrifice his son Ishmael, it was where God through Prophet Nathaniel rejected David’s wish to build a temple because he had shed blood (Bible: Samuel II 7:12 -13), it was where the Hellenic and Greek god Apollo was worshipped in the belief that this is the intersection of both worlds. It was there that Prophet Muhammed (SAW) ascended to his “Night Journey” leading prophet Abraham/Ibrahim, Musa/Moses, Issa/Jesus, and others in prayer. Today, Muslims do not pray inside the Dome, for it is forbidden for anyone to pray inside what is seen as the gateway between two worlds. Even the “halakhah” in rabbinical text does not permit entry into this site. Mustafa Mould, a convert to Islam from Judaism recounted:

“Standing at the wall of Solomon’s Temple, the Dome of the Rock, and El-Aqsa gave me an intense feeling I could not describe at the time. I can describe it now: I was sensing a feeling of holiness; it’s no wonder the Islamic name is El-Quds.”

Yitzhak Hayat-Ma’n describes the design of the Dome as one that creates movement in physical space causing the pilgrim to move in comprehension. This sense of circumambulation is reflect in the sensation of spiraling upwards as in the Sufi dance, the centrifugal force and the double helix of DNA.

Brian Wingate who loves to visit sites of Islamic architecture pondered on the Dome and said:

    “The designs are so intricate and geometric that they seem to turn in endlessly upon themselves, inviting your own mind to do the same”.

This is the difference between objective art, and modern art, as modern art has a different effect on each onlooker, whereas with objective art the effect is the same on all onlookers calling on the unification of man.

This was first written in 2002.

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Integraton.com. “The Virtues of the Dome”. http://www.integraton.com/5sacredGeometry/SacredGeometry.html 2001

Lapidus, I. “A History of Islamic Societies”. Britain: Cambridge University Press. 1995.

Mould, M. “Odyssey to Islam”. http://jews-for-allah/Jewish-Converts-to-islam/odyssey_to_islam.htm 2001.

Nasr, S. “Islamic Cosmological Doctrines” Britain: Thames & Hudson. 1978.

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Sacred Sites. “Dome of the Rock” http://www.sacredsites.com/1st30/domeof.html 2002

Sakkal, M. “(Computational) Geometry in Islam Architecture”. University of Washington. http://www.kalam.org/abst.htm 2002

Templemount Faithful. “The Riddle of the Dome of the Rock”. http:///www.templemountfaithful.org/Newsletters/2001/5761-12.htm 2001

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